Calgary Herald

Stampede of workers flock to the big show

Two-week fair lures hopefuls from across the country


Many Calgary employers are struggling to fill job openings amid a labour shortage stretching across most sectors.

And then there’s the Stampede, where most entertainm­ent-related businesses have had little trouble recruiting staff to work the two- week event.

Some have had to turn eager would-be employees away because too many applied for openings; the money and fun of Stampede a powerful lure for people across the country.

“This is legendary,” says 25-yearold Allison Matheson of Prince Edward Island, who’s working her first year at the Cowboys Dance Hall. “I came here for the economic benefits of it, the fun times and all the experience­s.

“I’m hoping to stay here. I hope to be working quite a bit ... Trying to get all the hours possible.”

Kim Blair, 24, of Calgary, is also working her first Stampede for Cowboys, drawn by the attraction of mixing business and pleasure.

“Where else can you have this much fun and make this much cash? This opportunit­y is equivalent to a young man working a rig shift,” she said. “It’s long hours, but it’s great cash during the liveliest time of the city.”

Paul Vickers, of Penny Lane Entertainm­ent Group, said the company will hire 950 additional staff for its four venues during Stampede, the vast majority at Cowboys Dance Hall and the outdoor tent, which can draw as many as 20,000 people during a single day.

“They come from all over the country ... They make so much money and it’s also a fun party time,” he said.

PJ L’Heureux, president of CRAFT Beer Market who’s also involved with Jamiesons, Commonweal­th and St. James Corner, said staff at the Calgary CRAFT location number about 200 people on a regular basis. The business will add roughly 30 more workers for Stampede. Altogether, the group of establishm­ents will hire about 100 additional staff.

“For service staff, it’s pretty easy (to find people) because people are seeing it as a part-time thing. It’s fairly easy and they’re looking to make some money over Stampede,” he said. “But for the back of house it’s very difficult.

With the (temporary) foreign worker (changes) we’re already searching for staff as it is, so with Stampede combined when you’re running that much more food it’s very difficult.”

The Concorde Entertainm­ent Group, with 15 establishm­ents in Calgary, has hired more than 100 additional people specifical­ly for Stampede, said Jon Molyneux.

“We get hundreds and hundreds of resumes and we’ve only got a limited amount of spots to fill. So we get people applying from across Canada that want to come and partake in the Stampede festivitie­s and make some money and have some fun,” he said.

“In this tough time, this is a time when it’s not that tough (to find staff).”

Denise Bodnaryk, director of talent management for the Calgary Stampede, said the organizati­on on a year-round basis employs 300 full-time people and 1,200 casual and part-time people. It hires 4,000 additional people, starting in April, just for the 10-day Stampede.

Those hired — for everything from greeters to attendance takers to security and park maintenanc­e — range in age from 15 to 74. About 100 more people were hired this year compared to 2013.

“I think it speaks to the eagerness of many people, especially youth, to work hard for 10 days and then take the rest of the summer off.

“That’s obviously good news for Stampede employers. Unfortunat­ely, at the same time, that doesn’t bode well for other employers who are looking to fill permanent part-time or full-time jobs,” said Richard Truscott, Alberta director for the Canadian Federation of Independen­t Business, of the hiring spree.

Jeanette Sutherland, manager of workforce and productivi­ty with Calgary Economic Developmen­t, said the economic impact of the Stampede on Calgary is about $175 million. It’s estimated that for every dollar spent at the Stampede another $2.65 is spent in Calgary at hotels, bars, restaurant­s, shopping and entertainm­ent.

“So there’s a lot of opportunit­ies for jobs but it also adds for Alberta and surroundin­g regions about $226 million,” she said. “It’s a great way to kick off the summer and it’s a great way for people to have their first jobs and it’s also a great opportunit­y for us to attract individual­s to Calgary for future work opportunit­ies to showcase Calgary.”

 ?? Gavin Young/Calgary Herald ?? Kim Blair, left, and Allison Matheson will be working at the Cowboys Dance Hall, some of the extra staff hired for the Calgary Stampede.
Gavin Young/Calgary Herald Kim Blair, left, and Allison Matheson will be working at the Cowboys Dance Hall, some of the extra staff hired for the Calgary Stampede.

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